Lights and shadows of Stars for Workers one year after

One year after our campaing of messages to celebrities started, it is the moment to assess its impact. We focused on 144 actors, models, singers and athletes endorsing textile brands, in order to inspire them to be committed to the problem of workers’ exploitation in the supply chain.

During this time, we have received almost 200k visits in our website, and the core of our mission has been widely disseminated.

We are also proud to have received support from many recognized organizations, activists, researchers and social entrepreneurs around the world. Thanks to all of them for helping to make people aware about this topic.

Moreover, we had the honour of being invited to the European Parliament to introduce our project and to support the “EU flagship initiative on the garment sector”, to establish a regulatory framework in the European Union with a view to increasing the transparency in the supply chain, change product labeling to inform the consumer of who produces the clothing and under what working conditions, reward tariffs with sustainable production, and prevent human rights being violated, with special emphasis on the case of women.

During this time, we have also known that some other interesting initiatives were launched, which share some commonalities with Stars for Workers. For example, the NFL player Michael Bennett lead the creation of “Athletes for Impact”, and the football player Juan Mata headed the born of “Common Goal”. All these projects are laudable, but they did not address our mission and vision. Consecuently, Stars for Workers keeps still alive.

We have several reasons of being satisfied with the development of our project. Considering that our initiative is totally independent, it is not funded by nobody and we have extremely scarce resources, we think we have contributed to improve the visibility of this problem. However, we admit there are some issues that we have not properly addressed.

First, we have not got enough coverage in the mass media. Several mass media misprized our initiative and they did not cover the release of our campaign. In addition, the vast majority of journalists we contacted were not interested in Stars for Workers. We strongly believe that the power of brands and the fear to disturb celebrities are the main reasons for that. This fact has been specially dramatic for us in the sports industry, where we focused the majority of targets; Only one sports journalist has been brave enough to say publicly that celebrities should take a step forward regarding this issue.

Second, we failed to get people involved in the Retweets of messages to celebrities. In spite of dozens of thousands visits to our website, people were reluctant to only click in the Retweet button to ask celebrites for a change in their behaviour. Only a click, only one second for doing that. Even organizations and persons linked to the movement of slow fashion, fair trade, living wages and sustainability were reluctant to do it. So, we critically asume that, probably, this is not a proper strategy. And we think again that people are clearly afraid to do something that could disturb a celebrity. We are dissapointed for that, because social psychology clearly tell us that social pressure is a powerful way to address changes.

And third, we did not obtain responses from any celebrity. We know that many of them employ a community manager system for the social media, but when the pressure is enough they personally know what is happening in Twitter. Only the athlete Jarrion Lawson “liked” one of our tweets, but we obtained silence for the rest. In addition, we contacted with several ex athletes to ask for them to be “ambassadors” of our message. Although they are not currently linked to brands, they preferred to do nothing regarding our propo,sal. Anyway, we trust that our efforts to make celebrities aware about the need of change could inspire them towards good moves in the future to come.

Consequently we have stopped our campaign of messages, and we are going to start a more succint campaign called “Switch”, in order to inspire celebrities to make change, but without targeting any celebrity directly. “Switch” is what we are calling. Celebrities should break up with brands exploting workers and renounce to the money gained for being ambassadors of such brands, and “Switch” to endorse brands paying a living wage, as we demand in our Ethical Endorsement program.

Help us to change the rules of this industry,  and disseminate “Switch”. Thanks.